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Confessions of a Poker Hack

**IF you don't want to read all my ramblings, just skip down to the bottom for the Tips.**

When you first find out about the PSO, and you decide to play your first tournement, it's likely, that within about 2.4 seconds one of the first thoughts to cross your mind will be something along the lines of "F*** THIS S***!"

At least it was for me!

To the untrained eye, the PSO Open League can look like a nightmare shove fest.  But that's just because of one small fact.  IT IS A NIGHTMARE SHOVE FEST!!!  And that being said, it also, can quickly become a trap.

Let's face it.  If its your first time playing the PSO, chances are you're somewhat new to Poker. That's great!  That's what it's there for.  But being new to poker, you're probably coming in with all the tendencies of a New Poker player:  You play FAR too many hands, you don't have a lot of the fundimentals, and even though you've heard over and over again that Poker is a game of skill, and a long term game, you are still convinced that the luck factor, and short term resaults are what can get you to the top of that Leaderboard.

That belief is then compounded when you sit down at your first PSO Table, and see the first hand, OPEN SHOVE with 3 or 4 callers.  The board comes along and low and behold, the donk who called with ten deuce off (sorry Doyle) rivers a set and takes a HUGE pot.  Then the second hand comes along and the same scenario plays out.  Maybe the guy from the hand before wins ANOTHER huge pot with some rediculous hand.

It's easy to see this and start thinking to yourself "Oh, I get it.  It's shove and pray."  So you decide to play the same way, but for some reason, it just never works out for you.  Within the first three hands you play, you're gone.  Or maybe you catch a streak, but then loose it all very quickly.  Never seeming to be able to find your way on to the positive side of the points.  Well, What gives?

The answer is simple.  You fell for the trap.  But there's a way to avoid it, and it's a lot simpler than you man think.

Don't Play.

Ok, don't panic.  There's an explaination comming.  Here's how it worked for me.

After doing pretty much exactly what I wrote above I became frustrated and gave up on the PSO.  I didn't however give up on poker.  I started spending more time with the Training Video's here and checking out the Live Training sessions whenever I could.  Somewhere in there one of the trainers (I think it was Aharr or maybe Flixx) said that when they played the PSO, they didn't play anything but KK or AA.

What?  That didn't make ANY sense to me.  How were you going to do ANYTHIING it that shove fest by NOT PLAYING any hands?  But ok, he's a trainer, I'm a student, let's give it a try.  So in October of last year I started signing up for the occational PSO.  I'd sit there and not play.  I'd just fold my way and watch my money bleed down.  I'd watch the Lobby and see the number of players wind down like a cartoon watch.  500 people would fall off almost right away.  Then 100 people a minute. and it would continue like this for almost an hour.

I would just sit and fold.  And fold.  And fold.  And fold.  Then a BIG hand came.  AK suited.  OK, ok, I'm not supposed to play anyting but AA or KK, but I've been here for like 45 minutes just clicking fold.  Screw it.  ALL IN!  2 callers.  and 88 holds.  I'm out.


So, frustraited, and upset with myself, I resolve to try again, and this time REALLY only play AA or KK. And you know what?  It worked. 

I played a few more tournies in OCt, using the AA/KK method and it put me on the positive side of the points.  Which was great.  But it did NOTHING for me over all.  Even though the couple of tournies I played were Points possitive, I never made enough points to to actually place high enough to qualify for anything.  There was another problem too.  I was getting BORED!!!  All this sitting a folding wasn't Poker.  It was just boring.  I even posted about it in the forums. 

Then something clicked.  Once the field of 10,000 was down to around 2000, I was in the points, and I started to notice that play tightened up signifficantly.  To the point where one could actually start playing some hands.  This was not a chance to shove with anything mind you, but you were usually in a position at this point to really start working your shove/fold game, and if you were lucky enough to wake up with a decent hand, you'd have a decent chance of doubling up, and then get to start working on your short stack game.  But alas, what I learned, I learned too late to do me any good for the leader board for OCT.

So I put together a plan for November.  I would join as many of the PSO Tournies as possible.  I would fold my way down to 2000 players (Playing only AA or KK on the way up.)  Then once I was into the top 20% I would start playing.

And it worked  Over time I learned a few little tips and techniques that helpped improve the strategey, but the basics were always the same.  I took it to a bit of extream, setting alarms for 15 minutes before each tournement so I could be sure to register.  Even the late night ones I would get up and register for, then just sit out (I eventually learned that this only works EARLY in the month, otherwise, you're better off not playing at all.)

Something else started happening too.  I started to find that I was doing better in OTHER tournements!  Why?  Well, for a couple of reasons.  The biggest being Patience.  I was finally learning patience (something I struggled with in real life, not just on the poker tables.)  I started realizing that the hands that were worth playing late in the PSO, were the same hands that were worth playing early in other MTTs and STTs.  Also, my short stack game was getting WAY better.  By the end of NOV.  I pretty much had my sub 15BB game down.  And low and behold, at the end the month, I cashed!  Ok, it was only $2.50, but it was a cash, and more importantly my regular play hand drastically improved.

I repeated my effort in December and actually improved my Cash to $5.00.  AND at the beginning of January I got an email telling me I had qualified for the PSO Premiere League! 

My game had improved so much that that near the end of January I was able to win one of the Sunday "Bigger" tournements wich offically made me a WINNING player for the first time since I started playing in May 2011.


So, if you want to start your own Journey in the PSO Open league, here are some of the things I learned that can help you:

1) Play as many as you can.  These things fill up FAST (like usually full within the first 3 minutes of registration,) so set an alarm or something as a reminder.

2) Play ONLY AA and KK until you are down to %20 of the field.  If you are getting CLOSE to the bubble, and are at risk of blinding down, Pick your spots and try to double up with your top 10 hands or so (AA through 88, AK, AQ and AJ)

3) Early in the month (like the first week) you can actually sit out some of the tournies to get some small points.  But once you're on the positive side of the points for the league, sitting out for the whole tourney actually resaults in a points loss.

4) EAT THE CLOCK ON EVERY HAND.  This is a big one, and is one of the tougher lessons to learn.  Use up all of your time until the actual "Clock" starts on EVERY hand.  It may seem like a waste of time, but every second you wait, you're losing players from the tournement.  You can use the actual clock as you get closer to the "Bubble" (Around 20 % of the field.)

5) Once you're in the points, unless you've been EXTREMLY lucky, you're going to be short stacked.  Work your shove/fold game (there's some really good video's on here to help you with that.)

Finally, once you've played these long enough, you'll start to be able to read your tables.  This is extreamly important as you'll start to see where you can deviate from the AA/KK game.  Sometimes you can actually start playing other stronger hands earlier than the top 20%, but you're going to have to be extreamly cautious, as play is VERY lose even late in this stage.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this (even if you did just skip down to the tips! :-D ) I hope it will be helpfull, and I hope you are able to find success in both the PSO and in your regular game.

If I can ask one favor, if you found this blog helpfull at all, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment.  I'm going to use this blog to apply for Member of the month, so any comments really help.

Thanks, and have fun!


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